Melania Trump participates in a discussion with panel moderator Eric Bolling during an Opioid Town Hall Tuesday, March 5, 2019, at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

Margaret Valenti writes on the announcement of the White House’s new website, FindTreatment.gov, and the White House’s solutions to the opioid crisis.

The White House cites a still ongoing study that shows a decline of opioid addiction in multiple states including Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia, and now they take the fight against the opioid crisis a step further. Today, the White House announced a new website, FindTreatment.gov, aimed at providing easy access to rehabilitation treatment for those who suffer from addiction. Those who wish to seek treatment will be given easy access to 13,000 rehabilitation centers across the U.S. approved by the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 

Website Application

Kellyann Conway, a counselor to President Trump, oversees the administration’s response to the drug crisis and the acknowledgement from within the White House is that addiction is a complex and stigmatized issue. The stigmatization is often what prevents people from seeking help, therefore the easier the White House can make it for citizens of the United States to seek help safely, easily, and affordably is beneficial to all affected by addiction. The administration takes active steps to ensure that the rehabilitation centers are not predatory and are completely safe, legal, and effective for the general public. The administration also mentioned that tribal lands and veterans will receive more resources to combat opioid addiction.

Once typing in a zip code, one can specify the distance, treatment type (medication assisted treatment, detox, interim care, or outpatient), payment option, age, language, and select other special programs if applicable. The website also provides educational resources for those unfamiliar with how to navigate addiction and the resources to help. 

“When someone opens up about their struggles with addiction, it’s critical they and their loved ones have the right resources to quickly find help, and that’s exactly what this treatment locator aims to provide. Every situation is unique, and the Trump Administration continues to support people who seek substance use treatment on their journey to recovery,” Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Jim Carroll said today.

The website was designed to use clear, non-complex language to be easily accessible to anyone affected by or looking to learn more about addiction.

“We know that the drug crisis is indiscriminate, so we want the response to be indiscriminate,” Kellyann Conway said, “We designed it with human-centered principles in mind . . . We used real words for real people.”

Problems With Combating The Opioid Crisis

Despite the lawsuit in Ohio against private sector companies, including Johnson & Johnson, for their involvement in fueling the opioid crisis, the administration is still assured that the private sector will be instrumental in helping to provide treatments to assist in the rehabilitation. Google was also credited with efforts to combat false advertising on its database. The administration did not address how it would combat the criminalization of addicts in criminal justice systems nor the problem that the private companies who started the opioid epidemic are also profiting on helping combat the opioid crisis. 

Despite the administration’s insistence on combating the opioid crisis, many argue that the White House, and the U.S. government in general, is not doing enough to stop it. Basically, the opioid crisis is another political prop in Washington that politicians talk about but never provide real solutions for. Since the Citizens United decision in the Supreme Court, many big pharma companies who profit off of both the continuation and treatment of the opioid crisis simultaneously can flex their political will in Washington D.C., which makes it harder to get anything concrete done to help combat the opioid crisis on a federal level. 

When it came out earlier that U.S. billionaires, some of who perhaps profit off the opioid crisis, paid less in taxes this year than the average U.S. citizen — the working class — that made it clear to many citizens where this administration stands on stopping the opioid crisis: do just enough to save face. The White House did make lowering drug prices, combating the opioid crisis, and combating big pharma a big issue, even on Trump’s campaign trail, but it seems that little progress is being made so far. 

As the 2020 election cycle heats up, many will use the opioid crisis as a talking point in elections to appeal to the millions of U.S. citizens — largely working-class — affected by addiction every year. Expect the opioid crisis to continue to be a main talking point of the administration and for democratic presidential candidates as the election cycle continues, continuing to make the opioid crisis a political pawn rather than a real issue. 

Margaret Valenti

Margaret Valenti is the Editor of Generation Z Voice at The Pavlovic Today.